Use of Stereotype in Propaganda Essay

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To stereotype is to make generalization about a group of people based on in adequate and inaccurate information by media sources like cartoons, comic books and television. (Jowett, G. & ODonnell, V 17). On the other hand, propaganda is sending hidden messages in the media in an attempt to influence or manipulate the public opinion. In most cases, stereotype and media propaganda goes side by side. (Jowett, G. & ODonnell, V 14) Propaganda involves use of techniques such as fear, generality, brainwashing, name calling misinformation and others.

These techniques of misinformation and name calling are used by propagandist in attempt to convince the public to belief generalities made about a particular group of people to be true. Normally, stereotypes are by propagandist because they are fast and fairly effective. Stereotype has existed with us since the beginning of time in our day to day life. It is manifested in areas such as religion, politics and media. Some humorous information in the media can lead to stereotyping if they are wrongly interpreted.

This is so because some of these humorous messages may reach children who end up forming a wrong opinion about a certain group of people. How Stereotype Functions in Propaganda Generally, stereotypes are effective because not everyone can be able to travel to every nation and verify the true state of affairs. Stereotyping is also effective because of the ignorance displayed by a particular group towards another. For instance in North America Egyptians have been stereotyped as desert dwellers and uneducated due to their ignorance of the importance of education.

This stereotyping of Egyptians as an ignorant community has been proved wrong by Al-Ahran Weekly a credible newspaper among the Arabs nations. This stereotype of Egyptians to the public of North America has been very successful for a number of reasons. (Suleiman, M. W. 112) First, in North America, media is a powerful source of information and sometimes, it might be the only available source of information about the world and the happenings in the society at large.

That being the case, stereotypes in the North American media has continuously painted a very wrong image about Egyptians misleading the public to have wrong opinions and conclusions about them. (Suleiman, M. W. 113) Of the North American media, the most influential has been the television, which has influenced North Americans to perceive Egypt as an uneducated and backward community. The movie the Mummy misled a lot of Americans to have a wrong perception about Egypt. This stereotype has tainted the rest of the worlds opinion of Egypt and it is rather an unfortunate reality that the stereotype is accepted even by those who understand them.

The situation is further strengthened by the media who continue churning out propaganda on the same. (Suleiman, M. W. 113) Moreover the public will believe some of those stereotypes even when there is enough factual information that shows the reality. For example, it is interesting to note that Egyptians are being stereotyped to as ignorant yet Egypt is historically rated as one of the cradles of modern civilization. This particular case of stereotyping of the Egyptians has affected not only the Egyptian adults, but has also influenced the Egyptian children to perform poorly in academics as well.

This in turn strengthens the allegations that Egyptians are ignorant and are residents of the desert. ( Suleiman, M. W. 113) Egypt is not the only culprit of stereotyping, in many parts of the world, the anti- immigrant groups have managed to use stereotype to spread negative propaganda about the immigrants. How well Stereotype functions in propaganda tactics For stereotyping to be an effective mechanism of spreading propaganda to the targeted audience, the communicator should be perceived to be credible in terms of expertise and trustworthiness.

The listener should on the other hand have some form of approval of the commentator who they should have some common emotional ground of connection. ( Shaheen, J. 48 ) Usually, propaganda messages are normally believed when they are connected to good feelings. However, messages arousing fear are also very effective mechanisms for spreading propaganda; this happens when the amount of fear is more than moderate or when the intended audience is led to believe that negative consequences are bound to occur because of a certain event.

Fear is mostly used by political advertisement where for example in a campaign a candidate can associate the rival with terror or other atrocities. (ADC Research Institute) In America, especially during the post 9/11, Muslims have continued to be stereotyped as extremely evil and any association with them is greatly discouraged (ADC Research Institute) In fact in the current race for the U. S presidency, in the Democratic Party nominations that have attracted the competition between Senator Barrack Obama against Senator Hillary Clinton, the Muslim issue has been cropping up now and then.

During these campaigns the Clinton side has strived though clandestinely to portray Obama as a Muslim or a Muslim sympathizer. (Shailagh M. ) Though the Clinton side denied it, a photo of Obama while visiting Kenya where his late father hails from is seen wearing a turban and a Muslin garb. The photo was taken when Obama was being gifted by elders in that country because of his achievements. The photo though harmless was generally taking advantage of the stereotype about Muslims and was being used to instill fear in the minds of the Americans about their choice of the future president.

(Shailagh M. ) This is very good example of how propagandists operate especially in the modern world where they spread fear and innuendos covertly using even internet resources to avoid detection. The messages they send sound sometimes credible, and would affect judgment to the audience. (Shaheen, J. , 46) Propagandists have also been known to use repetition where they repeat a falsehood severally until the audience believes it to be the reality.

They will also identify with a higher authority in their attempt to make their falsehood more credible. . (Shaheen, J. , 67) Stereotype are even more effectively spread when the propaganda is supported by selected facts, and when the propagandists have control of all media sources, This way the propaganda is able to monitor the kind of information that will be passed on to the audience. Propagandists have also been known to use a technique of pinpointing and focusing on the common enemy. (Jowett, G.

& ODonnell, V 24) They seek to achieve success through the spread of fallacy by arousing negative feelings about the stereotyped group and by using masses to prevent an individual to criticize the propaganda. In addition, propagandists have been known to use prejudices and stereotypes that can easily be manipulated which they use to sway the public. (Jowett, G. & ODonnell, V 34)

Works Cited

ADC Research Institute: Post-9-/11 Report on Hate Crimes and Discrimination: Washington, DC, 2002 Jowett, G. & ODonnell, V : Propaganda and Persuasion. Beverly Hills: Sage Publications. 1986. p. 12-34 Shaheen, Jack: Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture: (Center for Muslim Christian Understanding), Georgetown University, 1997. 46-70 Shailagh Murray: Clinton-Obama Differences Clear In Senate Votes: Washington Post , February 24, 2008; Suleiman, Michael W: Arabs in the Mind of America: Brattleboro, VT: Amana Books, 1988, 112-123

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